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Evan Turner: Sixers have to ‘make it a rougher game’ 05.22.12 at 12:30 pm ET
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Coming into the series, the Sixers were perceived to have a clear advantage in the athletic department over the older, more experienced Celtics.

One problem with that – it’s the Celtics have have played tougher in the big moments, like for the for the final 20 minutes of Monday’s 101-85 Boston win in Game 5 that puts the Celtics one win from the Eastern Conference finals.

With the exception of the Game 4 meltdown in Philadelphia, the Celtics have won the battle inside against the Sixers. They’ve been able to establish Kevin Garnett in the low post and he and Brandon Bass have had quality looks at the basket.

Defensively, which the Celtics to a man will tell you is where it all starts, they’ve also done a much better job than Philadelphia in stopping dribble penetration into the lane, closing up quickly on Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday.

The good looks the Sixers were getting on baseline cuts in the first half Monday suddenly disappeared in the second half – as did the Sixers’ lead and any hope of winning the series on their home court on Wednesday night.

The Celtics demoralized the young, immature Sixers, who didn’t have the patience or discipline to reverse the ball because the Celtics were the tougher team. The Sixers shot nearly 60 percent for the first 23 minutes Monday night. They shot 27 percent the rest of the way.

‘€œMake shots,” is how Turner answered the question of turning around the second-half disaster in Boston Monday night. ” You get a lot of shots. The big thing is you just have to keep competing and make it a rougher game. You can’€™t let them walk into their shots, get to certain spots, you got to make it tougher for them like we did in Game 4.’€

Elton Brand, who is playing with an ailing shoulder, was huge early on for Philadelphia. He hit 6-of-8 as the Sixers had the clear momentum in the first half. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Andre Iguodala, Boston Celtics, Elton Brand
Avery Bradley is a ‘game-time decision’ for Celtics, could Ray Allen be starting? 05.21.12 at 11:54 am ET
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WALTHAM — The Celtics reported that all players were on hand and accounted for during Monday morning’s shootaround at the team’s practice facility.

The team’s official website tweeted just before shootaround ended that Avery Bradley (left shoulder) was a “game-time decision” for Monday’s Game 5 against the Sixers at TD Garden.

Bradley did not practice on Sunday after suffering a recurrence of his left shoulder injury during the third quarter of Friday’s loss in Philadelphia.

If Bradley were not available for Game 5, it’s assumed Ray Allen would return to the starting lineup for the first time in the playoffs. Allen hasn’t started since April 4 against the Spurs, coming off the bench in the last four games he played in the regular season and all eight games to date in the playoffs.

Allen has been nearly non-existent in the last two games in Philadelphia, getting off just one shot and scoring three points in the Game 3 rout of the Sixers and making 2-of-6 and scoring five points in 31 minutes on Friday night in the 92-83 loss that evened the series, 2-2, heading into tonight’s Game 5 at TD Garden.

“It’s hard to really think about it from this vantage point,” Allen said of Boston’s second-half meltdown on Friday. “I know that in the third quarter, we just lost our attack. They attacked us. Going into the fourth quarter, we were still in a good place but they continued to attack. We lost momentum and on a ’50-50′ balls, it seemed like they got all of them.”

As’s Paul Flannery pointed out, the Celtics are a plus-18 in the playoffs with Bradley on the floor, second only to the plus-56 of Kevin Garnett during the playoffs.

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, NBA
Ray Allen: Ready to fall on the sword again for Celtics in Game 4 05.18.12 at 12:33 pm ET
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PHILADELPHIA — Ray Allen had to be reminded Friday morning that the last time he had one shot in a game was Jan. 11, 2006, when he was ejected after playing just eight minutes in a win over Keyon Dooling and the Orlando Magic.

That was the infamous night when both were ejected in an on-court tussle.

“I do remember that,” Allen said Friday morning. “Very rare”

On Wednesday, he wasn’t ejected and played 25 minutes. But he again had only one shot, and again his team came out on top as the Celtics beat the Sixers in Game 3. Allen made the only field goal he attempted and finished with three points in Boston’s 107-91 win.

“I don’t have to change anything tonight that happened from last game,” Allen said. “The way they guarded me, they way they guarded us as a team, the final score was the result we were all hoping for. I can do everything this whole day the same way and go into the game and allow the game to go the same way. The object is to win.”

Doc Rivers said Friday that when Allen is on the court, the Celtics know one thing: “someone’s open.” That’s Allen’s approach as well.

“Most definitely,” Allen said. “I just think about what I’ve been able to do in this league over the course of my career, and be able to be regarded as one of the greatest shooters of all times. Now, it’s at the point where it hurts me, being on the floor, because no one wants me to take a shot. I appreciate that respect from opposing players, opposing coaches, fans when I get open always wonder how I got open.

“To be able to use that in the game, in a playoff situation, is a huge weapon. I’m always ready to take the shot and make the shot, but I know being out there on the floor does change the complexity of how a team plays defense. It helps with cutting, helps with pick-and-roll coverages. It helps with a lot of things. It’s like falling on a sword, you have to do what you have to do to help this team win. It can be frustrating because you want to get in and get involved, but the ultimate objective here is for us to win games and move on. That’s for me, what I have to do to help this team win.”

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, NBA, NBA playoffs
Doug Collins: ‘We have to meet the challenge of’ Rajon Rondo at 8:01 am ET
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PHILADELPHIA — A lot of coaches say they want to make life difficult on Rajon Rondo.

But Doug Collins said Thursday that if his Sixers don’t do a better job of putting up a fight against the superstar point guard in Game 4, his team essentially has no shot.

“We never got Rondo stopped all night long,” Collins said of Rondo. “He took the ball wherever he wanted to take it on the floor. We have to take that challenge. We have to take on the challenge that he’s the guy that going to push on the [fast] break, he’s going to get the ball up the floor, he’s going to make the passes, he’s going to be the guy who’s initiating most of their stuff. We have to take the challenge of doing a better job on him.”

Rondo got to the basket time after time, made 9-of-16 shots and finished with 23 points and 14 assists and help the Celtics rediscover their swagger in Game 3. Even when the Sixers led by five after one quarter, Collins was worried.

“We just weren’t sharp from the start,” he said. “A lot of our defensive coverages, and all the things we do. Even in that first quarter, we were up, 33-28, we missed about six layups, six shots in the paint. We never had a grip on the game, defensively. When we went cold a little bit in the second quarter, I told the guys we had 33 points at the quarter and we had six points in the first five or six minutes of the second quarter. Normally, when your defense has to carry you through those moments, [Wednesday] it didn’t.

“I just think the competitiveness. So much is made of Xs and Os. They made a little bit of change on their screen-roll coverage so we talked about that. They did some things differently on screen-rolls. But it’s not a lot of Xs and Os. It’s toughness, competitiveness. The first two games came down to one possession. We have to do a better job when Kevin Garnett is off the floor. He’s plus-47 when on the floor. We have to do a better job. We can’t let them go to their bench and build a lead and then let him come back at the end of the half fresh and then let them finish the half strong. That’s what’s been happening.”

Indeed, when Garnett re-enters the game, he’s been huge before halftime. The Celtics have been outscoring the Sixers in the final minutes of the second quarter and the opening moments of the third quarter, 44-15, in the first three games.

“He rests after about six minutes, they bring him back, and then they play him and he looks fresh at the end of the half. We’re minus-29 points ending the second quarter and starting the third in all three games.”

But what alarmed Collins from the start Wednesday was the lack of team defense from the jump.

“I never take away from a team playing well offensively,” Collins said in giving the Celtics credit. “I just didn’t think we put up a lot of resistance.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Doug Collins, NBA
Doc Rivers picks up another award 05.14.12 at 6:36 pm ET
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The following should come as no surprise: Doc Rivers is very media friendly.

On Monday, the Professional Basketball Writers Association recognized this formally by announcing the Celtics head coach was voted the winner of the annual “Rudy Tomjanovich Award” – given to the head coach considered the most accessible to the media.

Rivers received 33 votes, topping a group that included Denver’€™s George Karl (13), Orlando’€™s Stan Van Gundy (9) and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle (2).

The PBWA also handed out two other awards. Phoenix Suns star point guard Steve Nash was announced as the winner of “The Magic Johnson Award” – the equivalent of Rivers’ award on the players’ side. The Milwaukee Bucks media relations staff was given the “Brian McIntyre Award” as the league’€™s most enterprising and helpful public relations staff.

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Brian McIntyre, Doc Rivers
Tony Battie: Paul Pierce ‘always lived and breathed and ate the game’ 05.12.12 at 9:08 pm ET
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Before Saturday night, the last time the Celtics and 76ers met in the NBA Playoffs, Paul Pierce scored scored 46 points to clinch a decisive Game 5 victory in the first round, and Tony Battie was the C’s starting center.

Now, 10 years later, Pierce and Battie are two of only three guys still playing in the league (Raja Bell played four minutes off the bench for Philadelphia) — only Pierce is still starring in Boston and Battie hasn’t seen a minute of playoff action as a 36-year-old big off of the Sixers bench.

“I think they labeled us the ‘Return to Glory’ team,” said Battie, trying to remember those 2002 Celtics that succumbed to the Nets in the Eastern Conference finals a decade ago. “This league is kind of a revolving door. Now I’m playing for the Sixers, and that New Jersey team that beat us was put together by Rod Thorn, who’s now the Sixers boss over here. So, I guess I’m blessed to still be hanging around.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Boston Celtics, NBA, Paul Pierce
Are Ryan Hollins and Celtics up to challenge of Al Horford in Game 6? 05.10.12 at 2:49 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Al Horford looked a bit timid at the beginning of Game 5. He was getting pushed around somewhat in the paint by the likes of Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass, Greg Stiemsma and Ryan Hollins.

Then, a funny thing happened. He started hitting open jump shots.

He got his swagger, shook of the rust from Game 4 and three months of time on the bench rehabbing his torn left pectoral muscle and voila: Horford took over Game 5.

Horford finished the must-win game for the Hawks with 19 points and 11 rebounds in helping the Hawks to a 87-86 win over the Celtics.

“He’s a good player, he’s a good player,” Hollins said Thursday morning in the team’s shootaround. “He hits his open shots, passes well, plays really well with that team. We have to pay attention to him and make things tough for him. He’s a good player. He’s going to get his shots.

“He’s a good player. He thrives on contact, creating space for himself running the floor. He’s an All-Star in the league. That’s what All-Stars come out and do.”

What can Hollins provide?

“Energy, effort, teamwork, stuff that doesn’t show in the stat sheet,” said Hollins, who had five points, four rebounds, four fouls and one block in 19 minutes on Tuesday in Game 5.

Now, in the hours before Game 6, a game the Celtics need to win to avoid a trip back to Peachtree Street and Game 7 Saturday. It’s up to Garnett, Stiemsma and Hollins to step up and not give him the comfort zone he enjoyed in the final three quarters as Horford found his game.

“We all have to be ready, ready to play,” Hollins said. “It could be any of us called on. It could be Greg’s game, my game, Brandon’s game, whoever. We’ll all be ready tonight.

“The coaching staff keeps us always prepared. We’re ready for any situation, could be 20 minutes, five minutes, no minutes. We’re ready to go and ready to play.”

Read More: 2012 NBA playoffs, 2012 Playoffs, Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
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